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Buttigieg Surges to Third Place in Iowa Poll

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg listens during the Democratic presidential candidates debate in Westerville, Ohio, October 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg has surged to third place in an Iowa poll of Democratic presidential candidates released Monday.

The Suffolk University/USA Today poll showed Buttigieg receiving 13 percent of the prospective vote in the Iowa caucus, a seven percent increase since the poll was last conducted in June. Frontrunner Joe Biden received 18 percent of the prospective vote, while Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) received 17 percent.

Senator Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.), who lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Iowa caucus by one percentage point, garnered nine percent in the new poll.

Buttigieg has raised $19.1 million over July, August and September, finishing third in fundraising totals during that period. Sanders has raised $25 million while Warren has raised $24.6 million.

Buttigieg’s performance, which closely followed the latest debate, represents a significant improvement from a similar Suffolk University/USA Today poll in June, in which he received just six percent of the prospective vote. In that poll, taken after the first Democratic primary debate, Joe Biden led the field with 24 percent while California Senator Kamala Harris garnered 16 percent of likely voters.

Harris has dropped to just three percent in the latest poll.

Buttigieg has presented himself as a more moderate alternative to the progressive Warren, while remaining to the left of Biden. The Indiana mayor released a campaign ad on October 14 taking on Warren’s and Sanders’s support for universal Medicare coverage and proposing his own plan that preserves the private market while increasing access to Medicare coverage.

“If you prefer a public plan like Medicare, like I think most Americans will, you can choose it,” Buttigieg says in the ad, “But if you prefer to keep your private insurance, you can.”

Buttigieg has also resisted Beto O’Rourke’s call to strip religious institutions of their tax-exempt status if they refuse to support same-sex marriage.

“Going after the tax exemption of churches, Islamic centers or other religious facilities in this country” will “deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing,” Buttigieg said in an interview.

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